Since 2008, I have created a holiday playlist variously known as “Don’t Touch that Dial” or "Too Cool for Yule." (There is even a movement afoot to change the name to the “Ding a Ling Thing,” but I digress.)
Many years ago, I made mixtapes for my friends, my siblings, my work colleagues, and often, just for me. For those of you under the age of... fill in the blank... who might not have had the pleasure of methodically mining for nuggets in an LP collection, or waiting patiently by the radio for the hourly replay of the one tune that truly captures the essence of the person you are making the tape for, the mixtape can be a work of art. Each tape tells a story, and the best ones contain an eclectic blend of edgy and whimsical, happy and sad; a little silly, a little snappy and occasionally, a little sappy.
A couple of notes about this year’s edition. Each year I honor a few of the musicians who have left us. Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, Graeme Edge of the Moody Blues, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, and Don Everly, the last surviving member of the Everly Brothers, sadly made it to the list. (I wanted to honor Nanci Griffith but could not locate a suitable holiday song.)
Listeners will find pop, jazz, instrumental, New Orleans, country, bluegrass, R&B, old school pop, The Chipmunks, and more. Perhaps my favorite is a bluesy tune by the inimitable Fats Domino, who wants to “Stop the Clock.” Wouldn’t we all.
The last words and notes go to Dave Frishberg, brilliant jazz pianist and satirist, musical mainstay of Schoolhouse Rock (“I’m Just a Bill"), who died November 17. His talk-singing of “You are There” touchingly sums it up for anyone who misses special someones.
As Year Two of the pandemic winds down, take a moment (or 5760 -- thank you, Alexa), grab a beverage, any kind will do, and enjoy “Too Cool for Yule 2021.”
And above all…
Stay safe, stay hopeful.
Arlington Public Library